Resolving issues with your property manager

Julie asks:
(updated on Friday, July 15th 2011)

My partner and I moved into a flat two months ago and we signed a fixed term tenancy agreement along with two others. My partner and I are having trouble with the other flatmates and want to move out. How can we do this? We also have no oven door handle and asked the property manager at the start of the tenancy to have it fixed and she agreed and sent a builder around to fix it. The builder told us that it needs a new part. One month later I contact the property manager and I am told the part is still coming. One month after that i contacted the property manager again and she sends the builder back again. The builder arrives inspects the oven and said that he needs to order a part in. We asked him "why?" as he ordered it two months ago. He said "that's right". He then told us he would then order the part again. Three weeks later we have had no contact from the property manager or builder and in the mean time my flat mates have had burns from the oven. is this a breach of tenancy? HELP

Our Experts Answer:

If you are all signatories to the tenancy agreement you will need the agreement of the landlord, as well as the remaining tenants, to take yourself off the tenancy agreement. For the protection of everyone, that variation agreement should be in writing (either exchange of letters, or some other written record).

As well as the tenancy agreement, there is the bond to consider. If the bond is lodged in all your names, it will be tidier if you agree to remove your claim to it (perhaps the other flatmates will refund your contribution). To remove your claim to the bond ownership you can all sign a Change of Tenant form (downloadable from Tenancy Services' web site). It's important that you do so, in order to avoid problems with releasing the bond at end of tenancy.

Regarding the oven door handle, it sounds like the oven serviceman may have a breakdown in communication with the property manager (or vice versa). Some parts are hard to obtain, especially with older appliances. It may be that the ordered part has to be obtained from overseas. I suggest you talk the issues through with the property manager and try to get them resolved.

If you still don't think you're getting a satisfactory response, you can issue the property manager with a 14-day Notice to Remedy. If that doesn't get a result, you may bring a claim against the property manager in the Tenancy Tribunal requiring the landlord to repair the oven.

With all the associated delays, it's better to try to resolve it all by calling your property manager first and talking it through.

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